We all know about My Disney Experience and the ability to check wait times, book FastPass+, view photos and make Advance Dining Reservations from your phone. We also all love to moan about the unreliability of the app. But put those feelings aside for a moment and appreciate how technology enhances your time in the Disney theme parks. There are a few mobile technological features Disney has created which, in my opinion, are underused yet very handy. So I’m going to talk about three lesser used features to help improve your vacation:
Mobile ordering has been around for a while now (since 2017) but it wasn’t until my most recent trip that I suddenly thought I’d try it out. This little feature totally changed our experiences at quick service food locations and I can't understand why I didn't start using it sooner!
Mobile ordering is the ability to order your food from a quick service food location by using a mobile device with which you have the app installed. You can order food off the usual menu before you even get to the restaurant. Goodbye standing in line for 20 minutes.
What I think is great about this feature, is that you can also customize your choices, for instance, if you don’t want a particular ingredient in your burger, and it also shows the allergy menu.
So say if you’re in line for Toy Story Mania! and you’re feeling a bit hungry, open up the app and start ordering your food from Backlot Express. Your party can all browse the menu as you wait to ride instead of having to make a decision in the restaurant. You can then order but they won’t start preparing your food until you’ve told the app that you’re ready. So once you’ve got your high score on Toy Story Mania!, you can walk over to Backlot Express, then hit “I’m Here” instead of waiting in a line.
This can only be used for quick service restaurants and not all of them offer it, so these are the ones where you can make use of this tech:
Magic Kingdom: Aloha Isle, Casey’s Corner, Columbia Harbour House, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe, Pinocchio Village Haus, The Lunching Pad, Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant
How do you use it?
1) Open up the My Disney Experience App and hit the "+" button or "Order Now" if the mobile order ad is showing.
2) Click "Order Food" and then select which restaurant you want.
3) Once you've chosen the restaurant, hit the "Order Food" button. This will then take you to the menu where you can choose from a list of sections for instance, “Entrées” or “Sides.” This is a great way to see what choices there are without having to keep looking at the boards in the restaurant which can be hard to read if you're standing far away.
4) Click "Add” on each item you want to order.
5) If you want to customize any items before you add it, click "No Thanks" or "Add" next to the various ingredients.
6) Once you've added everything you want, hit "View My Order" and then "Review Order Summary" unless you want to modify it.
7) The app now takes you to the payment screen which automatically uses the card linked to your Disney account but you can opt to use a different card if you want to. Finally, just click "Purchase" and you're ready to go.
8) Once you've arrived at the restaurant or you're very close, click "I'm here" and the restaurant will start preparing your food. You'll receive a notification when it's ready to collect or just hang around the mobile order pick up point and wait to hear your name called out. The cast member will check your identity and you're ready to go eat!
Why should you use it?
Using mobile order meant we skipped a lot of queues and saved a lot of time. Nine times out of ten, there would be very long lines which we could just walk past. Even if you haven’t ordered your food before you’ve reached the restaurant, you could still order on the app. That way your whole party can sit somewhere nearby and wait until it’s ready rather than standing in slow-moving lines.
Out of all the times we used it, there was only one negative occasion where I think the Cast Members were snowed under with orders from regular ordering guests which created a backlog of mobile orders. But for the most part, it was super easy and saved us a lot of time and energy. I’ll be using mobile ordering a lot more in the future.
Resort Bus Times
You've rushed from your Disney Resort hotel room down to the bus stop only to realize you just missed a bus to Epcot and the next one isn't for another 20 minutes. If you had checked the My Disney Experience app, you would have seen when the next bus was leaving and could have taken a more relaxed walk down or gotten ready earlier.
Most stops now have the TV screens telling you what time a bus is due to arrive, and this is an extension of that. This allows you to plan from the comfort of your hotel room before you've made the journey to the stop.
How do you use it?
You can only see the bus times if you have an active resort reservation so, unfortunately, you can't see the times if you're at home.
On the app home screen, click on your reservation and then tap "See Bus Times." This will show you a list of each location the buses travel to and when the next bus is due to leave. It will also give you your estimated arrival time at the location you're going to which is handy if you’re meeting up with people in the park.
Why should you use it?
Being able to see when each bus will be arriving at your stop enables you to better plan your time. No need for that “just missed it!” feeling when you see your bus pulling out of the stop. You also get a good estimate as to how long it could be until you reach your destination.
Play Disney Parks App
Decided to wait in a three-hour line for Flight of Passage? Regretting that 70-minute wait for Peter Pan’s Flight? Run out of conversation? Then Play Disney Parks can offer you a form of entertainment while you wait.
Play Disney Parks is another app that links to your My Disney Experience account and uses your location to give you fun games and trivia to play while you wait in line. There’s single player and multiplayer options so you can involve your whole party. The app also connects to Apple Music where it suggests Disney playlists you can listen to which is another neat feature if you have an account.
The app tracks your progress and achievements by using location enabling services and bluetooth on your phone (make sure you have both turned on). So once you’ve ridden a certain ride, it’ll award you with a star. It’s quite fun trying to collect all the achievements.
How do you use it?
1) Once you’ve downloaded the Play Disney Parks app and opened it, select which destination you’re at. Currently, the app is only for the U.S parks.
2) Make sure you log in to save your progress. To do that, click on the white Mickey head in the blue circle at the top left of the screen and enter your My Disney Experience details.
3) Go back to the map screen and explore. If you’re waiting in line for an attraction with a game, e.g. Space Mountain, click on the large circle over Space Mountain on the map. You have to be in line for the specific attraction in order to unlock the games, but any of the other features, such as the trivia quizzes and music, you can be anywhere you like - from Main Street, U.S.A. to your living room back home.
4) The games are for 2-5 players and you use one device between you which you pass around. The fun thing about the games is that they often interact with things you’ll see in the line, for instance, in the Space Mountain queue, there are codes written on the walls which you need to find to progress in the game.
5) To find the other forms of entertainment on the app, there’s are smaller icons that you click:
- Star = an attraction where you can earn an achievement just by going on the ride/ watching the show.
- Music note = you can listen to specially selected Disney music via Apple Music.
- Question mark = where you’ll find the trivia quizzes. I have to say that the trivia on the app is very good. I’m guessing you Disney fans out there often struggle to find Disney quizzes that aren’t too easy, but the trivia on Play Disney is just the right difficulty that you can still have fun and learn things at the same time.
Why should you use it?
Play Disney made waiting in long lines much more fun and I love how it connects to your My Disney Experience account so you can earn achievements and "collect" attractions. It's a great way to get your whole party involved in something together and makes standing in line entertaining. We even found ourselves feeling slightly disappointed that we reached the front of a line before we finished a game.
Of course, the downside is that it does use your phone's battery and when you're already using it to manage your FastPasses this can be a slight issue. I recommend getting a portable phone charger to carry around with you, there are FuelRods for sale in many locations across the resort where you pay a one time fee of $30. Once your FuelRod has run out of battery, you can go back to any FuelRod machine and swap it for a new one for no extra money.
So there you go, three pieces of Disney mobile technology that you should make use of on your next trip. It certainly added to my vacation and helped enhance my experience.